Edited press release
Continuing to demonstrate its commitment to the health and welfare of Thoroughbreds, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA) announced its endorsement of the John Stringer Rainey Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act.
The SAFE Act, named for the late South Carolina philanthropist and former director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), is legislation that would permanently end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in the United States and abroad.
It also amends Title 18 of the U.S. Code by making it illegal to “possess, ship, transport, purchase, sell, deliver, or receive…any horse with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption,” with penalties that include fines and imprisonment.
Introduced in 2019 by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the SAFE Act has also garnered the endorsement of several prominent animal welfare groups. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the United States Trotting Association (USTA), and the Maryland Horse Council (MHC) are among those supporting its passage.
“Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide,” said Sen. Menendez when the bill was introduced.
Aftercare is also a top priority of the PHBA, according to president Greg Newell.
“We are doing everything we can to help place horses who reach the end of their first or second career, whether they have finished racing or breeding,” said Newell. “Our Anti-Slaughter Committee, chaired by Kate Goldenberg, has done a wonderful job addressing what can be done to help our equine athletes.”
PHBA Board member Hank Nothhaft, also a member of the Anti-Slaughter Committee, said that endorsement of the SAFE Act was something the organization wanted to do to be a positive force toward improving the industry. The fact that many unwanted Thoroughbred broodmares are found in slaughter pens proved to be a call to action.
“There was unanimous support from the PHBA Board to mitigate the slaughter of broodmares,” said Nothhaft. “Older broodmares, especially, are not attractive candidates for equestrian activities, and thus they are not as easy to rehome as younger horses. This has really pushed us from sitting on the bench toward getting into the fray.”
“Our hope is to form a non-profit within our organization, to assist our breeders when the time comes,” said Jennifer Poorman of the PHBA. “We'll be looking to build a network of partner farms willing to assist with retirement from breeding, whether it's a second career or permanent retirement due to physical limitations.
“We're also creating a campaign to educate our breeders about responsible aftercare, along with providing a network of resources for our breeders to turn to at any point they find themselves in need of assistance,” she said.
Nothhaft said one reason why the SAFE Act hasn't gained traction toward passage since 2019 in Congress is because large agricultural interests fear that anti-slaughter legislation would bring undue attention to their industries, which involve large-scale slaughter of animals for food.
“The SAFE Act is one of three items we are working on,” said Brian Sanfratello, executive secretary of the PHBA. “The others are Pennsylvania-specific anti-slaughter legislation, similar to the SAFE Act, that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone who causes or transports a horse into the slaughter pipeline, as well as a PHBA code of ethics, with sanctions for anyone who is a member or registers horses with our organization and is found to be in violation of the Pennsylvania anti-slaughter measures.”
For additional information, contact Brian Sanfratello at 610-444-1050 or [email protected].